Things I’ve Learned

Why broad software patents on consumer-facing, mass-market applications are as thin as tissue paper and a waste of time:

  1. By the time you roll out your product, it may have had to change so much to meet user needs and the realities of the market that the patent no longer applies.  Patents are stiff things, they don’t adapt.
  2. Time to market matters, not making sure that developers color within the lines of the intellectual territory you are trying to stake out.  The actual implementation may have NOTHING to do with the original idea.
  3. Patents should be based on what is implemented not what is imagined at the blue-sky level.  See what works– patent that, not your initial crazy idea.  Quit stroking your ego, it’s impolite!
  4. Staking out a claim that has nothing to do with what users want and need is pointless.  You are stroking your ego and your dick at the same time, buddy.
  5. Software is SOFT– it’s mutable for a reason.  It’s not a device or specified physical object– and that’s a good thing, because sometimes the IP should be abandoned (unless your goal is to be a patent troll).
  6. Being a patent troll is someone who patents something just to wait for people with similar ideas to pass by an bonk them over the head, then stealing their idea or a big part of their cash.  I had an idea of how to do notch filtering on a PC (with two sound cards) with FFT in 1997 to assist a company doing studies on exposing autistic children to “banded” sensory input (mask out/enhance high/low/mid sound frequencies, enhance/reduce the color blue/red/green in photos and films, etc.).  I started the patent process but realized that unless I was going to fully develop the idea, all I could do was some head bonking, constantly on the lookout for passers-by from underneath the bridge.  No thanks, I let it go.

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